Day 58 Koocanusa Lake


Getting lost and surviving it with a smile is a sign of maturity on the ride. Hats off to both Wildflowers today who both logged extra miles…not me…

Today we leave early at seven led by the Lincoln County School Superintendent who wants to show us a scenic route. There is much dawdling by a few stragglers so I start off by myself…the White Rabbit is not known for the virtue of patience.
I head North towards Canada but turn left with three miles to go towards the town of Redford, moved when the Libby Dam became full.
This project came about after a treaty was signed by the US, Canada, and the Kootenai tribe with reservations crossing country lines. Located in the upper northwest corner of Montana
the dam was finished in 1975 and created a 90 mile long Koocanusa Lake. Much of the Lake is in the USA but about a third extends into our Neighbor to the North. Below the dam the Kootenai river flows into the Columbia system.
Electricity generated at the dam flows to six neighboring states but all the revenues go to the Federal Government to repay the construction costs.
10 miles past Redford the bridge crossing to the West side comes into view.
We will take this road since there is less traffic to impede our course.
As I begin to cross I stop for a picture of the other side and wonder at the huge granite walls blasted from the mountain side.
Shafts 6 inches wide were drilled to a set altitude above the projected lake level and then filled with dynamite and blown to set off massive rock slides.
For the next 40 miles I pedal down into side buried fiords and them out again, usually with a mild climb. Green forest adorn both sides of the lake to mountain tops overlooking both meandering roads, one on the east side, the other the west.
The day is warm and very dry. As I approach the dam
and my second rest stop I am running low on water but have rationed what I have. Today is a 75 mile ride with access to no towns, gas stations, farmhouses, or for that matter any form of relief other than our rest van. To make matters worse we have no cell service all day.
At the dam I look for eagles usually soaring here but can see none today. Off I speed down hill 700 feet tot he Kootenai River as it heads west. Just beyond the river crossing we are to turn west on an unmarked road of little consequence. As I do so I stop to think that here several will get lost…6 do…
All along the shaded side road Wildflowers adorn the way and I stop often to enjoy them in the shade.
Finally into Libby I roll remembering this town made famous by the movie Erin Brockavich and all the tragedies that happed here.
Just before I enter town I see a forest fire finally under control…
I have been reading about this since my stay with Rick and Fran 3 days ago.
I had a reservation at a motel for tonight but decided to give up my room to two riders who are showing signs of chronic fatigue. I remember that feeling three years ago and hope a good nights rest in a bed will help them go on. I myself have paced the ride better and overall feel fine. As long as I have a hose shower and a sanitary toilet…which is true for tonight…I am happy as a clam.
I get a yellow jersey today though I was not looking for one…4 riders in front of me stopped for ice cream just before the end.
Over the next two hours the rest straggle in…one Wildflower added an extra 17 miles getting lost, the second a whopping 30.
Both got lost at that unmarked turn…
I will sleep tonight under the stars without a tent flap, the dew point is so low, no cottonwoods to lull me to sleep, just tall swaying pine trees in a gentle south breeze.


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